Attentional modulation of stimulus representation in human fronto-parietal cortex.
Thompson R., Duncan J.
Evidence from primates suggests that prefrontal and parietal regions selectively represent information that is relevant for current behavior. In humans, whilst functional imaging has shown that fronto-parietal areas are activated by a range of different cognitive demands, the actual content of representation remains unclear. The current report describes two studies designed to address this issue using fMRI adaptation. In both studies, participants completed a delayed matching task where they attended to either the color or the shape of a series of sample stimuli and indicated whether occasional test stimuli matched the preceding sample on the attended dimension. Whole brain contrasts showed that changes to the value of the currently attended dimension produced significantly greater responses in frontal and parietal areas than events where the value was repeated. In addition, prefrontal and parietal regions of interest showed strong interactions between the currently attended dimension and the type of stimulus change, reflecting an attentional modulation of responses to stimulus change. Further comparisons suggested that the differences between attended changes and stimulus repetitions carried information about specific stimulus values, and did not simply reflect a generic response to attended changes.